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Politics Leading Democrats oppose Biden plan to end house arrest and potentially return inmates to prison after the pandemic

06:12  21 july  2021
06:12  21 july  2021 Source:   businessinsider.com

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President Joe Biden 's legal team is signaling that federal inmates released to home detention under the CARES Act over the past 18 months will have to return to prison after state of emergency is lifted. Some In the Environmental Justice Movement Oppose A Carbon Tax. That Is A Problem For Democrats .

It states that inmates released on home confinement under the CARES Act must return to prison up to 30 days after the pandemic state of emergency ends . Officials reportedly said the decision is based on legal interpretation, not policy. The decision applies to roughly 4,000 nonviolent inmates . A memo from the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel sent a week before Biden took office states that inmates whose sentences last beyond the official state of emergency declared for the pandemic have to go back behind bars.

a baseball player swinging a bat at a zoo: Prisoners stand outside the federal correctional institution in Englewood, Colo. AP Photo/David Zalubowski © AP Photo/David Zalubowski Prisoners stand outside the federal correctional institution in Englewood, Colo. AP Photo/David Zalubowski
  • Since March 2020, more than 28,000 people have been released from federal prison due to COVID-19.
  • Those released were assessed to face severe health risks if they contracted the coronavirus.
  • Those released currently have to return to prison a month after the pandemic formally ends.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Two leading Senate Democrats are urging the White House to reconsider a legal opinion that could potentially return thousands of people to a federal prison.

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Some 4,000 federal prisoners temporarily released during the COVID-19 pandemic will have to return to serve out their sentences once the emergency has ended unless President Joe Biden commutes their sentences or Congress passes a new law, administration legal experts have determined. They will have to return to prison a month after the federal emergency ends . These inmates were freed from federal prison under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed into law during President Donald Trump’s final year in March 2020.

At issue is a pandemic-era policy, approved by Congress, that allowed the federal government to release inmates who were deemed to have especially serious health issues putting them at heightened risk from the spread of COVID-19 behind bars. Those prisoners - 28,587 since March 2020 - were allowed to serve out the remainder of their sentences under house arrest.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that the Biden administration had concluded, like its predecessor, that the authority to transfer prisoners to home confinement would expire once the federal government lifts the state of emergency declared due to the pandemic.

There are currently 7,225 federal inmates in home confinement, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

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Many inmates released to home confinement during the coronavirus pandemic have gotten jobs and started school. What does it say about the purpose of prison if they're sent back? After time in federal prison , Ring is now pushing to end mandatory minimum laws he once wrote. "This doesn’t seem that difficult," said Ring, who himself served time in federal prison . "They know how to change Trump policies they don’t like, right away." Reincarcerating people who, for the past year, have been law-abiding would disrupt their rehabilitation and would do little to improve public safety, according to

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Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday that there is no reason to return those people to prison.


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Since being released, those now in home confinement "have posed no threat, and are already reintegrating into society, reconnecting with their families, and contributing to our economy," he said in a statement.

Durbin urged the administration to other reconsider its legal analysis or use other tools, "like compassionate release and clemency," to ensure that no one is returned to prison.

Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey and leading advocate in the upper chamber for criminal justice reform, said he was "deeply troubled" by the Biden administration's interpretation of the law.

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Biden argues that the government shouldn't forgive debt for people who went to "Harvard and Yale and Penn" -- and he's also indicated that he believes Congress should make changes through legislation, which would make them harder to undo. "The President has and continues to support canceling Bernie Sanders put forward forgiveness plans when they were running in the Democratic presidential primary. Biden put out a policy proposal to forgive ,000 per borrower only after the pandemic began and he was the presumptive nominee. Lawmakers introduced a similar resolution last year that

Biden and top congressional Democrats - House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer - had long signaled their plan to link the bipartisan deal with another bill including spending on home health care and child care. Biden told reporters at the White House that he expected quick action on both measures - or neither would survive. "I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this (bipartisan) bill - the infrastructure bill - as well as voted on the budget resolution," he said.

"The Trump-era's Office of Legal Counsel opinion that will require incarcerated individuals return to prison once the public health emergency ends serves no public health purpose," he said in a statement, "and only works to unnecessarily incarcerate people who have succeeded in re-entering society."

In April, Durbin and Booker sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland arguing that Congress never intended to rescind home confinement. They say have not heard back.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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